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Magical Realism

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Storytelling articles > Magical Realism

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Description

Magical realism is a technique in storytelling where reality and fantastic elements are seamlessly combined, as if such elements as magic and fantastic creatures were perfectly normal.

Magical realism in stories may appear as there being magical elements within our 'real' world. Another form is where there are parallel worlds such that characters switch between the two (or sometimes more), with the magical aspects only appearing in one world.

Example

In 'The Alchemist', by Paulo Coelho, Santiago is a shepherd who pursues his 'personal legend' in which the story gradually becomes more fantastical.

In 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant', by Stephen Donaldson, the protagonist lives in the real world, but when he is knocked unconscious appears in a fantastical world where, much to his annoyance, he is hailed as a foretold hero.

Discussion

Magic is popular with children, for who much of the world is unexplained and the existence of Santa and fairies is just as normal as the existence of teachers and cars. This can lead to wonder and pleasure in their early lives before they discover the sad realities of our non-magical lives.

This awe and hope can still be recovered in stories, which is one reason why genres of science-fiction and fantasy are so popular. If we can suspend disbelief, then we can, at least for a while, live in a magical world. Magical realism in the everyday world enhances this as we see magical aspects appearing all around us in credible settings and in ways that are easier for cynical adults to accept.

See also

Magical Computers

 

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